False Gods for Lost Souls

Environmentalism, with its promises of fire and brimstone, is the new religion. But where’s the humility, the compassion, the spiritual transcendence?

One of the most interesting parts of Michael Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, is the final chapter, titled “False Gods for Lost Souls.”

Shellenberger observes that, according to Greta Thunberg’s mother, frightening climate prognostications were partly responsible for her daughter’s descent into depression at age 11. According to Greta’s father, climate activism helped her overcome depression.

There’s a poignancy to that tale. One wonders how many youngsters of her generation have experienced similar mental health struggles. There are so many street preachers in our public square, promising fire and brimstone, urging repentance.

The Thunberg family helps to illustrate Shellenberger’s view that

Environmentalism today is the dominant secular religion of the educated, upper-middle-class elite in most developed and many developing nations. It provides a new story about our collective and individual purpose. It designates good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. And it does so in the language of science, which provides it with legitimacy.

But this religion doesn’t uplift spirits, feed orphans, or bless the poor. Rather than comforting the elderly, it sentences them to cold-weather misery. Big picture, this religion harms, rather than heals.

Here are a few more quotes from that chapter:

…negativity has triumphed over positivity. In place of love, forgiveness, kindness, and the kingdom of heaven, today’s apocalyptic environmentalism offers fear, anger, and the narrow prospects of avoiding extinction.

…The stories we tell matter. The picture promoted by apocalyptic environmentalists is inaccurate and dehumanizing. Humans are not unthinkingly destroying nature.

…Emissions are a by-product of energy consumption, which has been necessary for people to lift themselves, their families, and their societies out of poverty, and achieve human dignity.

…the vast majority of people in the world want both prosperity and nature, not nature without prosperity.

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July 29, 2020 at 06:06AM

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